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Application of the Altruistic Behavior Coding Scheme to Cross-Cultural Contexts

  • Author(s): Smith, Sandi W
  • Bresnahan, Mary J
  • Smith, Stacy L
  • et al.
Abstract

Smith and Smith claimed that altruistic action “is intended to benefit others beyond simple sociability or duties associated with role.” This definition will need to be carefully applied to behavior in communal cultures as they have extended obligation networks, the basis of which are expected helping behaviors offered to others in the network. Therefore, behaviors that would be captured by the coding scheme in an individualistic culture would not necessarily be seen as altruistic in a communal culture as they may be non-voluntary and role-related. Six components of altruistic behavior are addressed here, and two of these are predicted to differ according to the culture in which they are enacted. These are determining whether the act was motivated by a primary concern for the other and whether the actor would be likely to engage in self blame if he or she did not engage in the action. The other three components of altruistic behavior are postulated to operate pan-culturally. They are actual benefit to the recipient, empathy, cost to the initiator, and ease of escape from social censure.

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